Sir — Parliament has approved a higher pay package and perquisites for its members. But that has failed to satisfy the legislators (“MPs’ pay up three times”, Aug 21). For members of parliament, daily travel allowance has been increased from Rs 13 to Rs 16 per kilometre, pension benefits have been hiked from Rs 8,000 to Rs 20,000, and basic pay has gone up to Rs 50,000 from Rs 16,000. Legislators have been given a few more lakhs despite the fact that many among them are already crorepatis. MPs enjoy unlimited benefits — free travel in air-conditioned comfort with their spouses or attendants, free air travel, free water, free electricity and Rs 2,000 for attending sessions in Parliament, to name a few. Given their productivity, can MPs justify the salary they will now be given? This is a pertinent question for which they should be answerable to Indians, many among whom are yet to get a proper remuneration for the work they do.
Mohanty Ashish Kumar,
Sir — It was amusing to hear that Lalu Prasad was not happy with the pay hike sanctioned by the government. I cannot think of one profession in India, except politics, where people like Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav would be able to earn Rs 50,000 a month.
Partha Pratim Goswami, Durgapur
Sir — One would not have thought too much about the 300 per cent pay hike in the salaries of parliamentarians had they done something productive or anything for the benefit of the nation. Every rupee paid to MPs is a waste as they really do nothing for the country. It is shameful that while the poor and the middle class are struggling to survive while battling inflation and price rise, MPs should accept a fatter pay package without sparing a thought for the common people. What about senior citizens, whose incomes have dwindled to nothing because of the falling interest rate on their deposits? Is it not the duty of our legislators to address these problems? Yet, legislators do not think twice before disrupting Parliament. The Opposition has repeatedly stalled parliamentary proceedings on trivial issues. It was shameful to see legislators clamouring for a 500 per cent hike in their pay. Lalu Prasad, who has already made enough money from the fodder scam, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and others members of the Janata Dal (United) or the Akali Dal should first try and earn a five per cent hike in their pay by doing something worthwhile. They are misusing their privileged position as people’s representatives and looting the nation of its meagre resources. This is abominable, and should be condemned by all right-thinking citizens.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — I am surprised at the resentment shown by Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and other MPs at the three-fold increase in their salaries. With the basic salary of Rs 50,000, plus numerous allowances, the total monthly pay of our MPs is well over Rs 1 lakh, and this is not a meagre amount in a poor country like India. Taking into account the heavily subsidized bungalow accommodations, almost free electricity, telephone and other facilities that legislators enjoy, they have a standard of living which is pretty close to that of the super rich in our country. It is a matter of concern that some of the people’s representatives still crave for more.
Debasish Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — The report, “MPs’ pay up three times”, speaks volumes about the unique democracy that is India. Traders may fear the fall in profits in these times of recession, but India’s MPs are so powerful that they have no compunction in hiking their remuneration by 300 per cent. Worse, there does not seem to be any objection to this from the other pillars of democracy — the executive and the judiciary. After the APL (above the poverty line) and BPL (below the poverty line), there now seems to be another yardstick — MPPL or member of parliament poverty line. And this might fluctuate wildly, if our parliamentarians’ dissatisfaction with the Rs 50,000 per month pay is any indication. India is a market economy — a system that the legislators have decided to impose on the country. The policies of a market economy are stiff competition and ‘hire and fire’ in case of incompetence. The private sector in India follows these rules. Why should parliamentarians be treated differently?
R. Subhranshu, Chandernagore, Hooghly
Sir — The fact that the MPs’ salaries have increased by a wide margin shows that our legislators are greedy men. As a senior citizen who participated in the freedom struggle, I think that it is virtually impossible nowadays to find politicians who would stand up to the principles of service, sacrifice and patriotism that had motivated us. Had there been even a residue of these principles left in the political class, it would not have been able to impose such a heavy burden on the national exchequer.
What a shame that when people are dying of hunger, our politicians should fatten themselves on taxpayers’ money. It was once said that those who should have been in jail are in Parliament. India, truly, is a very unfortunate nation.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore